By Scott Mosley
More and more today, success in the marketplace is dependent on a healthcare organization’s ability to forge meaningful, substantive working relationships with physicians and practice groups. The Health Care Advisory Board has estimated that 65-70% of the steerage associated with hospital admissions comes from the primary and secondary care physician. But, there remains an interesting balance to the formula.
A Deloitte Center for Health Solutions survey of healthcare consumers reveals that only 20% of consumers are content to let their doctor make decisions regarding healthcare services for them. For the remaining 80% the process involves some level of collaborative, give-and-take which balances physician influence with consumer preference. However, this balance still gives the strongest weight to the physician’s favored utilization patterns.
Turning again to an HCAB Cardiac Roundtable study, it is estimated that 63% of the decisions related to hospital care are made exclusively by a patient’s physician. And, changing a physician’s referral preferences is a demanding proposition, with 75% of physicians indicating that they are unlikely to make changes in their referral patterns. So, how do we, as healthcare marketers, most effectively achieve stronger alignment with physicians who have the potential of increased admissions to our facilities and services?
I’d suggest that there are essentially five keys to jumpstarting an effective, results-oriented physician alignment effort. First, consider the hospital’s approach to supporting loyal physicians, focused on maximizing ease of practice and proactive barrier/dissatisfier removal. Look for opportunities to sharpen this discipline and evaluate its impact.
Secondly, consider the depth of congruence and alignment of interests between the hospital and key physician groups. Look for opportunities to achieve greater synergy between the marketing efforts of the hospital and vital physician groups. Find ways to appropriately showcase lead physicians (nurturing stars) through hospital promotional efforts, bringing stronger visibility and recognition to the strength of alignments. Consider the possibilities associated with joint or collaborative marketing initiatives.
Third, consider opportunities associated with the deep analysis of relevant utilization patterns and real-time fluctuations in those patterns, at the specialty, group and physician levels. Leverage the value of building a fuller understanding of utilization patterns and the factors most directly influencing them, establishing a routine reporting process.
Fourth, examine the effectiveness of current practices of converting inquiries from prospective patients to revenue-generating interventions by purposefully channeling/steering prospective patients (expressing interests or needs) to the most appropriate sites of care/service. Consider the value of carefully defining the primary channels through which prospective patients move and setting stretch goals related to the channeling/referral process.
Finally, assess the manner in which the hospital’s brand is extended to key service lines and the principal entities which most directly reflect the organization’s principal strengths. Consider the power and value of clearly reflecting the tight, cohesive weave of entities, programs and services through which the distinctive excellence of the hospital’s key clinical programs is brought to life. Make them overwhelmingly attractive points of association and connectivity for key physicians and group practices.
Remember that the goal is to create a win-win environment which blends the strengths of both hospital and physician infrastructure. The key is achieving a level of synergy which brings “one” and “one” together, aligning them to make “three.”
Scott Mosley is Ten Adams Vice President of Strategy. Ten Adams is a strategic healthcare partner whose sole purpose is to help clients offer positively remarkable experiences for patients, staff and the public. Unlike traditional agencies, Ten Adams succeeds in this realm by implementing strategies born of a deep understanding of the entire organization—from strategy to culture to marketing. Ten Adams is able to absorb the complexities of the healthcare organization’s interconnected services and deliver simple, effective and integrated solutions.
Scott Mosley has more than 20 years of healthcare planning, marketing and communications experience having served in administrative roles with three major health systems prior to joining Ten Adams. He applies his experience, judgment and intuitive sense of the industry in helping Ten Adams deliver smart solutions tailored to the specific objectives of clients. For more information visit us at www.tenadams.com.